The Republican Party stands behind a traditional definition of marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. This belief does not come from a hatred of homosexuals, as many people try to color it, but from a belief that the institution of marriage was set up as such by our founding fathers, and has been defined this way throughout history, and that changing it compromises the sanctity of the institution. It also stems from a belief that, in terms of raising a family, having a male and female authority figure is a healthier and more balanced way for a child to grow up. These are some of the common arguments against gay marriage.
Furthermore, the Republican Party believes in the right of individual states to decide for or against the recognition of marriages that do not fit this definition. The Republican Party believes in a smaller federal government, which places fewer regulations on the people. They also believe in the state’s rights to make their own laws, based on the beliefs of their citizens. In relation to gay marriage, the Republican Party believes that state’s rights should extend not only to the right to legalize or not legalize gay marriages, but to recognize, or not recognize, gay marriages from other jurisdictions.
The Defense of Marriage Act
Republicans headed the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law granting states the right to not recognize same-sex marriages that were granted under the laws of other states. The law originally kept same-sex couples from being recognized as “spouses” under the federal law. This kept same-sex couples from being able to claim marriage benefits from the federal government, such as insurance benefits for government employees, social security survivor’s benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns.
A motion to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, titled the Respect of Marriage Act, was introduced by Democratic congressmen Jerrold Nadler, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis in September of 2009. The new bill was supported by Bill Clinton, and Bob Barr, who was the Defense of Marriage Act’s original author, and several other legislators who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act when it was first put into place.
In February of 2011, the Obama administration issued a statement saying that they would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act Section 3 in the courts, unless Congress repealed section 3, or the law was determined unconstitutional, and instructed the Department of Justice to act accordingly. In March of 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced plans to convene the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, to determine whether or not the House of Representatives should defend the Defense of Marriage Act Section 3, since the Department of Justice was not doing so. The committee voted 3-2 in favor of this action on March 9, 2011, and former United States Solicitor General Paul Clement was selected to represent the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group on the issue.
When it was announced that the Obama administration was no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act in courts, Senator Diane Feinstein re-introduced the Respect for Marriage Act to the Senate, and Jarrold Nadler re-introduced it to the House of Representatives. The bill made it to the Senate floor, but did not receive the 60 votes it needed to bring it to a vote.
In June of 2013, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed by the Supreme Court, and Feinstein and Nadler re-introduced the Respect for Marriage Act once again.
Democrats vs Republicans on Gay Marriage
The Democratic view on gay marriage is that all couples should be treated equally under the law. They believe that same-sex marriages should be given all the same legal benefits that opposite-sex marriages are, and that same-sex marriage should be legalized throughout the nation. However, the Democratic Party, as announced in their 2004 platform, supports the right of states to individually legalize or not legalize gay marriage. This platform was created in response to George W. Bush’s proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the federal level. The platform stated “in our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there.” In this capacity, the two parties agree. Both believe the states should be able to decree whether or not gay marriage is legalized.
Disputes about the issue of gay marriage between the Democrat and Republican Parties have revolved heavily around the Defense of Marriage Act. In the 2012 Republican Party platform, republicans spoke out against the current Democratic administration’s blatant disregard for the Defense of Marriage Act. It was stated that the President’s support of allowing same-sex marriage in military bases, his push for providing federal benefits to same-sex couples, and particularly the administration’s refusal to support DOMA in courts was a direct violation of the President’s inaugural oath. Despite the president’s explanation that he would still enforce the law, Republicans still consider it a disregard of his duties to refuse to defend the law in courts, prior to it being repealed or ruled unconstitional.
Prominent Republicans’ Views on Gay Marriage
The Republican Party platform throughout the years has reflected the wish to contain the institution of marriage to one man and one woman, and to keep states from being forced to recognize marriages that were not performed in their own jurisdiction. The extent to which different prominent Republican Party members hold these views – whether they simply want to defend the rights of the states, or they disagree with the legalization of gay marriage in any jurisdiction – varies from member to member.
George W. Bush on Gay Marriage
President Bush endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to restrict marriages to one man one women in 2004. He believed the Defense of Marriage Act was vulnerable, and believed this amendment to be a more concrete solution to protecting the institution of marriage. However, in January of 2005, he stated that he would not lobby on behalf of the amendment banning same-sex marriage, because a large number of senators believed the Defense of Marriage Act would withstand a constitutional challenge, and therefore the amendment was not necessary.
John Boehner on Gay Marriage
When section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed, Boehner stood behind the act nonetheless, claiming “the constitutionality of a law should be judged by the court, not by the president unilaterally.” He added that he was “obviously disappointed” by the decision to repeal the law, and that he hopes that states will rule to define marriage strictly as a union between one man and one woman.
Reince Priebus on Gay Marriage
In March of 2013, the Republican National Chairman urged Republicans to “strike a balance between principle and grace and respect.” Priebus explained that, while the party has a platform that it should stick to, they also should not adhere so strictly to it that they are dividing and pushing people away from their own party, and that finding a balance was the best way to keep the party united while still standing by Republican principles. He explained that republicans must find a way to draw in new demographics, or they are facing a “very bleak future.” Young voters see gay marriage as the civil rights issues of their generation, with an overwhelming majority of the up and coming voters supporting gay marriage rights. Pushing this demographic away could be dangerous for a party that has already faced losses in the last few elections.
The Difficulty with Republican Views on Gay Marriage
As Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus pointed out, gay marriage is something that a higher and higher percentage of Americans support. Priebus warns Republicans to be more open to other views on the issue. However, Republican strategist Ed Rogers points out the catch-22 in this situation. Most current republicans still oppose gay marriage. Where 58 percent of Americans now support gay marriage, only 39 percent of Republicans support it, with 59 percent of Republicans opposing it. This leaves the Republican Party in a tough spot. They must either reform their views to bring in new members and gain support in coming elections, and risk pushing away those that have stuck with the Party through the years, or stand by their age-old platform, and risk continuing to lose support throughout the nation.
However, the tides are shifting, and many foresee a Republican platform that, if not supports gay marriage, at least does not oppose it. While 59 percent of republicans oppose gay marriage, this is drastically down from the 72 percent that opposed it in 2004, and many republicans that do support gay marriage are up and coming young voters. Rogers suggests the party appear to be “tolerant yet opposed” on the issue. While this stance is rather unflattering, it is also a middle ground that is less likely to push away either current republicans or young voters. Rogers predicts that the tides will continue to turn towards gay marriage support within the Republican Party, and even goes as far as to say that it is inevitable for the GOP to one day have a candidate that supports gay marriage.
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Republican Views on Gay Marriage – RepublicanViews.org
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